Three years after recreational marijuana became legal in California, Santa Monica prosecutors dismissed 3,000 misdemeanor cannabis convictions Thursday as part of a countywide move to bring relief to communities of color who disproportionately suffered the consequences of the state’s drug laws.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office this week asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to dismiss 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases that date back to 1961 as well as about 4,000 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases in 10 cities across the county. The action will impact 53,000 individuals, about 45% of whom are Latino and 32% of whom are Black.
In Santa Monica, 3,000 misdemeanor convictions dating by to the 1940s will be cleared, said city spokesperson Constance Farrell.
“By working with the District Attorney to dismiss misdemeanor cannabis possession cases, the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office joins offices across L.A. County in reducing barriers to housing and employment and continuing steps toward criminal justice policy that truly provides public safety for all,” Santa Monica City Attorney Lane Dilg said in a statement.
The county joined four other counties to complete a Clear My Record pilot program to clear marijuana convictions eligible for relief under Proposition 64, or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
The other counties in the pilot include San Francisco, Contra Costa, Sacramento and San Joaquin. 85,000 convictions will be reduced or dismissed across all five counties. A 2018 law requires all counties in California to do the same by July.
Proposition 64 allows individuals convicted of possession of marijuana, cultivation of marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana and sales and/or transport of marijuana to be resentenced.
L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey also included individuals who are 50 years or older, haven’t had a felony conviction in the past 10 years or have successfully completed probation for cannabis convictions.
Based on these criteria, Code for America created an algorithm to analyze eligibility for thousands of convictions in seconds, alleviating the need for District Attorney staff to go through state criminal records one by one.
The process to clear marijuana convictions before the Clear My Record pilot was convoluted, expensive and time-consuming, officials said. Only 3% of Californians eligible for relief have received it.
To find out if your record has been cleared by the Clear My Record pilot, contact the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office by phone at (323) 760-6763 or visit pubdef.lacounty.gov.